Reviewer: Thomas Bartlett
In recent years Sony has been one of the brands leading the charge to deliver good black from LCD TVs. The Sony Bravia KDL-46XBR features a claimed dynamic contrast ratio of 18,000:1 and a host of other really top-notch features, with general performance to match.
The TV has a full high definition display, showing all 1920 x 1080 pixels of a high definition picture. There are three HDMI input (including one with the set of A/V inputs on the side, which is convenient for plugging in a PS3). There are also a host of video features that all add up to providing high levels of performance, so I’ll get to those shortly.
The TV has Sony’s attractive floating glass surround, and the speakers are mounted to the sides of the screen.
Also on the side is a USB input for displaying photos (not for playing video or audio files). The ‘Photo TV HD’ engine does an excellent job, unlike some such inputs. It scales the picture to the resolution of the TV so you get as sharp and detailed photos as the panel can reproduce, and this is indeed very sharp and detailed.
Most inexpensive LCD TVs don’t have ‘dynamic’ contrast ratio processing, which involves amongst other things turning down the brightness of the backlight to enhance dark scenes. These TVs typically have a contrast ratio of about 1200:1. Yet this TV manages 2200:1 even without the dynamic processing. Sony has a top notch LCD panel in this TV.
In normal use, in normal lighting, you will never notice that this is an LCD TV. The subjective level of the blacks in such conditions is excellent. So not only do you get good dark detail, the richness of the colours are magnificent as well.
It is only when watching dark movies in a dark room that the black levels suffer a little. Occasionally in largely dark scenes where there is a bright section of the image, you can see some slow pumping of the background black levels as the dynamic processing circuits work their magic. And in really dark overall scenes there is a little unevenness with which the backlight comes through, so the corners tend to be a little bit less black.
Aside from that, the performance was quite magnificent. First, when fed with a high definition signal the TV simply pipes all the pixels through to the relevant display pixels, providing a presentation of the picture that is completely free of any distortion. Your HD DVD and Blu-ray pictures will never get any sharper than this. In addition, the TV supports 1080p24 video and processes it as such. So most high definition material, which originates from film, showed with cinema-like smoothness on the screen.
All other aspects of the video processing were brilliant, with great suppression of MPEG and other noise. Also worth a mention is the ‘Motionflow 100Hz’ system, which generates in-between frames to smooth onscreen motion. This worked with minimal artefacts, and even worked with 1080p60 signals. This is the best implementation yet I’ve seen of this.
The HDTV digital tuner seemed very solid in operation as well, with no picture break-up or any other misbehaviour.
If you’re after superbly high quality high definition video display, have a very close look at the Sony Bravia KDL-46XBR LCD TV. You are certain to be impressed.